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Assisted suicide defeated in Maine; Colorado refuses 24-hour wait period

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Results for pro-life advocates were split in ballot initiatives considered by Maine and Colorado voters. While Maine voters narrowly rejected an assisted suicide measure, Colorado voters refused an effort to require a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion.

In Maine, voters defeated a ballot initiative that asked if “a terminally ill adult, who is of sound mind, [should] be allowed to ask for and receive a doctor’s help to die.” The measure was defeated by a margin of 51 to 49 percent, with 321,901 votes against assisted suicide, with 303,201 for.

C. Ben Mitchell, consultant for biomedical and life issues with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, “It appears that Maine voters pushed back the assisted suicide juggernaut for the time being. This is a hopeful sign. If both Oregon and Maine had legalized the practice, they would have set up bookends on either side of the nation and the culture of death would have made its push toward the heartland.”

Mitchell, an ethics professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Ill., called the Maine vote “a hopeful victory for life,” but said Christians should be assured that proponents of assisted suicide will not relent. “We must continue to be vigilant in pushing back the culture of death.”

Opponents of the measure successfully argued that the measure was “fatally flawed,” noting that it discouraged family involvement. “The definition of who is a next of kin does not require that person to be a blood relative,” stated Edith Smith of the Maine Citizens Against the Dangers of Physician-Assisted Suicide. She also expressed concern that the definition of who is terminally ill is unclear. “It doesn’t have to be someone in the last six months of life,” Smith told the Internet’s CNSNews.com news site.

“Terminally ill patients need to work with their families, doctors, other caregivers and clergy to be sure their final days are comfortable and to be told their lives are valuable. With all the medicines available to regulate pain, terminally ill patients can be kept comfortable,” Smith said.

Opponents overcame strong support for the assisted suicide initiative that was polled at 71 percent just three months ago.

Colorado voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have required a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could have an abortion, as well as requiring that certain information regarding abortion procedures and alternatives be provided to her. Nineteen states currently require some type of waiting period for women seeking an abortion.

The measure lost by a margin of 60.3 to 39.7 percent, with 959,803 against and 630,771 for the waiting period. Just two months ago, Amendment 25 appeared to be favored by as much as 61 percent of Coloradoans and had the support of the governor, Catholic churches and the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family ministry.

Richard Land, president of the ERLC, said of the vote, “Given the gravity of the choice to abort a child, it is entirely reasonable that women facing a crisis pregnancy have the time and information to seriously weigh their decision.

“There is no question that if voter profiles across the nation mirrored those of Colorado voters, pro-lifers would have a greater uphill battle,” he added.

Mitchell said voters have been led astray by pro-abortion rhetoric.

“A 24-hour waiting period for a decision as critical as whether to have an abortion is hardly a burden on women or their so-called right to choose,” Mitchell said. “Is it really too much to ask that someone wait a day before they kill another human being?”

“The pro-abortion libertarians know that if a woman has a chance to think twice about abortion, she’ll likely choose life,” Mitchell added. “They really don’t favor informed choice; they favor a choice to abort life.”

Prior to the vote, Colorado Pro-Life Alliance President Gary Rogers praised the efforts of supporters of the measure, noting they were outspent 10 to 1. Planned Parenthood spent more than $250,000 to oppose the measure, while the Ms. Foundation and National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) contributed more than $100,000 to help with the defeat.

Nationwide, the Federal Election Commission reported that NARAL spent $2.4 million to advocate for pro-abortion candidates while the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) spent $1 million. Aware that the next president will nominate three or four Supreme Court justices as well as many federal judgeships, both sides determined to emphasize the issue in the media.

Carrie Gordon Earll of Focus on the Family noted that abortions have declined in states adopting similar measures to the initiative proposed in Colorado. When provided more information about the fetal development of the baby in utero, Earll said, “There is a greater likelihood that she will not choose to abort her baby, which would be healthier for both the mother and the child.”

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  • Tammi Reed Ledbetter